The Voting News Daily: Defense Department inspector General questions military voting, A Ballot Box Tactic With Deep Historical Roots

National: Defense Department inspector General questions military voting | Many military installations across the globe lack offices where troops can register to vote and obtain absentee ballots, the Defense Department’s inspector general concludes in a newly released report. Investigators attempted to contact 229 voting-assistance offices and were able to reach just 114 — about 50 percent. Under…

Editorials: A Ballot Box Tactic With Deep Historical Roots | The Root

In states from Florida to Pennsylvania, Republican Party efforts to diminish minority voting strength for this year’s presidential election are a sobering reminder that the struggle for full civil rights is not over. But it’s not only black voters who should be concerned about Republican voter-suppression tactics. The GOP’s war on voting is a serious attack on the fundamental workings of our democracy. It is, at its core, an attempt to negate the important victories of the early 1960s that laid the foundation of our modern representative democracy. To understand the breadth of the threat represented by voter-ID laws and other new practices designed to suppress votes in Democratic districts, it’s important to realize that the effort to dismantle obstacles to voting rights for black voters in the South during the early 1960s did more than just enfranchise African Americans. It exposed the myriad ways in which key aspects of the American electoral system were fundamentally unfair for all voters. In particular, the disproportionate power afforded to underpopulated rural jurisdictions over the more populous cities was corrected by the Supreme Court in a series of cases that dismantled the framework of unequal voting power that had existed in the South since the turn of the 20th century.

Arizona: Last-ditch try in open-primary fight | Arizona Daily Star

Challengers to the state’s open primary system want another two hours to argue in court there are not enough valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Attorney Mike Liburdi told the Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday he was “cut off” on Thursday by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Rea in the middle of his arguments. He said Rea refused to give him more time even after initiative supporters finished early. “Given the magnitude of the controversy – a proposed constitutional amendment that will fundamentally change the manner in which public officers are elected – it was unreasonable and an abuse of discretion not to provide (challengers) with more time to present their case,” Liburdi argued to the high court.

Florida: Lawmaker’s suit alleges absentee-ballot fraud at North Miami assisted living facilities, nursing homes |

Charges of absentee-ballot fraud at assisted-living facilities and nursing homes are at the center of Rep. John Patrick Julien’s legal challenge to the results of the District 107 primary race for the Florida House. Julien, D-North Miami, who lost a razor-thin Democratic primary to Miami Gardens Rep. Barbara Watson last month, filed a court complaint Tuesday challenging the results of the race. After a recount, Watson won with 50.06 percent of the vote — a 13-vote edge. The court complaint, filed in Leon County, alleges that several absentee ballots tied to a North Miami nursing home may have been cast fraudulently. It highlights a political consultant who advertised herself as “The Queen of Absentee Ballots” and a woman who appeared on Haitian Creole radio, warning absentee voters to consult with “teacher Carline” before filling out their ballots. “We have meticulously researched the facts in this case and have very good evidence that the fraud in the District 107 is concentrated in ALFs and nursing homes,” said Juan-Carlos Planas, an attorney for Julien and a former Republican legislator.

Massachusetts: East Longmeadow girds for primary election amid voter fraud investigation |

The town continues to try to fend off political disarray with a looming primary election at hand Thursday supervised by outsiders amid a criminal investigation into voter fraud, and a potential two-thirds void in its governing body of three. Point one: The town of 15,000 with 11,000 registered voters has two of three selectmen after Enrico “Jack” Villamaino, a three-term selectman, resigned after he fell under investigation for voter fraud as he was running in the Republican primary for the state representative seat against Longmeadow Republican Marie Angelides. Point two: Town officials and criminal investigators said the Town Clerk’s office was flooded with absentee ballots mid-election cycle with a quadrupling of historically Democratic voters transitioning to unenrolled without the voters’ knowledge. The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office and local and state police converged when the alleged improprieties surfaced. The actual ballots were unaccounted for. Former East Longmeadow selectman Enrico P. Villamaino III is reportedly now married to a co-suspect in a voter fraud investigation, Courtney Llewellyn.

Minnesota: Group opposing photo Minnesota ID totals up potential costs |

A proposed constitutional amendment that will require voters to show photo ID and make a series of other changes to state elections will be costly to governments and individuals, an anti-ID organization said. The costs to the state for providing free IDs, to local governments for instituting provisional balloting and upgrading technology, and to individuals for obtaining underlying documents such as birth certificates will be significant, said a report from Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota and David Schultz, law professor at Hamline University.  Here is the breakdown of costs, according to the group’s report. The state would pay $8.25 million over four years to provide free IDs, as the amendment requires, and a one-time cost of $1.7 to $5.3 million to educate voters about the change. The counties, which administer local elections, would have to spend between $23 million and $53 million to institute a new system of provisional balloting, to provide the technology for instant verification of voters and to convert mail-in voters to in-person voters. Some of these costs would be continuing costs, the report states.

Missouri: Judge orders new Democratic primary in 87th House race in St. Louis County | Stltoday

A St. Louis County judge has ordered a new election on Sept. 24 to settle a ballot problem that marred a state House race that was decided by one vote last month. The county Board of Election Commissioners had petitioned the court for a new election after it learned that workers at a polling place in Brentwood accidentally passed out the wrong ballots to 102 voters in the Democratic primary Aug. 7 between state representatives Stacey Newman and Susan Carlson in the 87th District. Newman won by a single vote, 1,823 to 1,822. The court’s ruling, handed down Monday by Circuit Judge Michael T. Jamison, states: “The margin of separation between Newman and Carlson is only one vote. And, it is clear that more than 100 voters were given the incorrect ballot, and that approximately one-third of the persons receiving the wrong ballot voted a Democratic ballot. “Whether the number of votes of doubtful validity is viewed as being more than 100, or 69, or 35, or some other number, the magnitude of the potentially improper votes is many times greater than the one vote that separates Newman and Carlson.”

Editorials: Crying wolf about voter fraud in Montana | Linda McCulloch/Ravlli Republic

We’re all familiar with Aesop’s Fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” The cautionary tale taught us that intentionally lying about something has its consequences, and that those consequences can negatively impact the people around us. Crying wolf about the security of Montana’s elections is an intentional and deliberate attempt to decrease voter turnout by gaining support for laws that will restrict your right to vote. These false allegations of massive voter fraud have been tediously repeated despite all evidence to the contrary, and it’s time for the deceivers to start bearing the burden of proof. As your secretary of state, and chief elections officer, I take every allegation of election fraud seriously. I launched the “The Fair Elections Center” early in my term so that every Montanan could easily report a potential state election law violation. Every allegation is documented, reviewed and, if warranted, passed on to the appropriate authorities.

Ohio: Husted bars local election officials from setting early voting hours pending appeals court decision |

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Tuesday prohibited county boards of elections — for the time being — from setting hours to open their doors for early voting the weekend before the presidential election. Although a federal judge last week restored in-person early voting during the last three days before the Nov. 6 election, Husted said it would be inappropriate to set voting hours for those days because the judge’s ruling has been appealed. “The constitutionality of the statute setting in-person absentee voting hours is still subject to court review and it would further confuse voters to set hours now that the court may change later,” Husted said in a directive issued Tuesday to all 88 county boards of elections.

South Carolina: State responds to court’s voter ID ‘impediment’ questions | TPM

Want to vote in an election in South Carolina but don’t have a photo ID? Lawyers for the state say it will be as easy as explaining why and then casting your ballot. In paperwork filed on Friday in federal court, South Carolina’s lawyers defended the state’s voting laws by saying anyone without a proper photo identification would still be allowed to vote by simply explaining what “reasonable impediment” kept them from getting an ID. The filing came after a panel of judges in Washington, D.C., quizzed the attorneys last week about what South Carolina meant by the term “reasonable impediment.” In essence, the state’s attorneys said, defining the term is up to each individual voter.

Tennessee: Davidson County election commission sets aside electronic poll books for November | The Tennessean

The Davidson County Election Commission voted Tuesday not to use electronic poll books for voting in November. The poll books, which were used to replace paper poll books recently in 60 of the county’s 160 voting precincts, have been at the center of criticism in the past week because some voters received the wrong ballots during the Aug. 2 primary. The commission had originally planned to use the new poll books in all 160 precincts for the Nov. 6 general election. But four of the five commission members voted Tuesday to revert back to the paper poll books for all precincts. The electronic poll books will be used only to help assist poll workers to help look up voter lists.

Texas: Data Issues in Texas Voter ID Case Highlight Coming Battle Over Voting Rights Act | Election Academy

Last Thursday, a three-judge federal court in Washington, DC refused to clear Texas’ new voter ID law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The decision sets up an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court – though likely not before the 2012 election – during which the constitutionality of Section 5 of the VRA is certain to come under challenge. The constitutional argument about the VRA has many facets, but the Texas case’s treatment of data about voter ID is as good an example as any of why the Act – and in particular, Section 5 – is generating so much heat lately. We’ve covered the data issues involved in voter ID many times on this blog – and both sides in the Texas case did the same. For its part, Texas produced an expert who submitted testimony suggesting that 1) a comparison with voting rates in Indiana and Georgia showed that Texas voters (especially minority voters) would not be prevented from voting because of ID and 2) minority voters possess ID at the same rates as all voters. The Justice Department countered with an expert who used matching data to determine that minority voters were more likely to lack the required ID to vote.

Wisconsin: Groups tell Wisconsin Supreme Court to wait on taking voter ID cases | JSOnline

Groups that blocked the state’s new voter ID law in two separate lawsuits are fighting an effort to have the state Supreme Court take over the cases and render a ruling before the Nov. 6 election. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen last month asked the high court to take the cases from two appeals courts, consolidate them and rule before the election. The Supreme Court this spring rejected an earlier effort by Van Hollen to take over the cases. Van Hollen argues it is appropriate to take the cases now that they both have full trial records. On Tuesday, the plaintiffs in both cases made separate filings arguing the high court should not take the cases. “The only thing that has changed since April, when this court last had the opportunity to take up this case, is the political climate,” said a filing from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

Netherlands: Dutch Election Suspense | Presseurop

Rupture or continuity? The Dutch go to the polls on Sept. 12 for early elections marked by the crisis. Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte seems well ahead, but on the left there’s tough competition to come up with an alternative. For the Dutch press this close vote risks prolonging the political crisis. The general election campaign of 12 September is still coming up with surprises. According to a survey published on September 3, the VVD party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte (Liberal) is still in the lead, expected to pick up 35 of the 150 seats in the National Assembly. Its main rival, though, seems to be not the rising star of the Socialist Party led by Emile Roemer (radical left), which had set the tone of the debate over the summer, but the Labour Party (PvdA) under Diederik Samsom.

Ukraine: Tymoshenko blasts forthcoming Ukrainian poll as illegitimate | RT

Former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko who is currently serving a jail sentence for abuse of office has addressed European politicians with a call to recognize the Ukrainian parliamentary poll as illegitimate before it even takes place. The address was read in the European Parliament by Tymoshenko’s daughter Yevgenia, who also held meetings with leaders of the European People’s Party – a coalition of European center-right parties who have long been allies with Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party. “The main message is to make a statement right now that these elections are illegitimate. After the elections are over it will be too late,” Yevgenia Tymoshenko said. “The dictatorship in Ukraine has practically been built. The elections will help to strengthen it,” she added. These words echoed last month’s statement by Wilfried Martens, president of the European People’s Party, who said that Yulia Tymoshenko’s arrest was a shift by President Viktor Yanukovich’s administration towards “Soviet-style authoritarianism.”

Venezuela: Voting drill in Venezuela | Al Jazeera

Sunday’s unusual “mock”elections are meant to test Venezuela’s newest innovation to its electronic voting system. Coming from a country where we still have to mark ballots by hand, fold them and then stuff then into cardboard boxes, this system is really quite state of the art. A machine now verifies a voter’s identification with his or her thumb print. It must be the same thumb print that appears on a person’s national identification card. After about 15 seconds, the machine gives the green light to go to the actual voting booth. There, you find a touch screen system to select the candidate of choice: President Hugo Chavez of the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela, or his rival Enrique Capriles of the opposition United Coalition. Just touch your candidate’s photo and another screen asks you to select YES or NO. It is very fast, easy and designed to make multiple voting impossible.